RECREATION SPECIALIST — SPECIAL EVENTS
MAPLE GROVE (POPULATION 70,253)
In Maple Grove, our Parks and Recreation Department staff researches fun new outdoor activities every year for our annual Wonders of Winter event. This year, event planners decided to bring something unique to Maple Grove: Crokicurl.
What is crokicurl?
Crokicurl is a popular activity in Canada, and it seemed like the perfect fit for our hearty Minnesota residents. It is a little like curling and, with the Olympics hype last winter, we thought, “Let’s try it!”
Crokicurl is played on an ice rink with a large target painted on it. Players score points by using their hands to slide curling rocks onto the target. The highest points are achieved when a rock slides into the hole in the center of the target. We provide the curling rocks. Participants don’t need any equipment. They only need to show up with a willingness to learn something new.
An activity for all
Maple Grove hosts the Wonders of Winter event to encourage residents to get outside and enjoy winter activities. We provide instruction to participants on such activities as snowshoeing, kick sledding, and fat tire biking. Crokicurl was a great addition because it’s an activity for all ages and abilities.
We set up the crokicurl rink in the city’s Central Park, where visitors already enjoy a refrigerated skate loop and many trails. Adding another ice surface was no problem since our park staff are well-versed in making ice. We have nine outdoor rinks, which are used for pleasure skating, and 12 hockey rinks, as well as the refrigerated ice loop.
Our creative park keeper team mocked up a design and laid out the rink before making ice. Using some wood planks for the frame, a plastic liner, and some red and blue paint, the crew was able to create a first-class rink.
Our park keepers also designed and manufactured our own version of a curling rock with supplies from our shop. This modified version worked well, but with the game’s popularity growing, we intend to purchase rocks for next season.
Coming back next year
This new activity was well-received by our park users. Maple Grove was the first to have crokicurl in Minnesota, but it got a lot of media attention, so we expect more communities to start offering it.
The crokicurl rink was a temporary assembly this year, but we plan to bring it back and make it even better next winter.
PUBLIC WORKS SUPERINTENDENT
MILACA (POPULATION 3,021)
The Milaca Park Commission and City Council decided in 2019 that our aging hockey rink was due to be replaced. We thought this would be a good opportunity to try something new.
Pickleball popularity has been increasing in our area over the last few years, and we’ve seen new courts popping up in nearby communities. We have also seen temporary pickleball nets set up on the basketball courts in the park.
Some Park Commission members play pickleball, and they thought if we offered pickleball courts, they would get a lot of use. So, we decided to try building a new rink that could be used for hockey in the winter and pickleball during warmer months.
One space, two activities
The old rink had a grass surface. The soil always had trouble holding water, and it drained very quickly, so it took a long time to get a good sheet of ice started. We wanted the new hockey rink to be placed on a concrete slab with rebar and foam.
Adding pickleball courts to the hockey rink slab was a good way to provide two recreational activities in one space that could then be used year-round. We started doing our homework on pickleball court dimensions and determined that four courts could fit into a hockey rink.
While the concrete slab was being poured, we worked with the contractor to measure out the correct placement for the pickleball post sleeves and had those set in the slab. The post sleeves go through the slab and have a sand/rock bottom to allow water to drain and to allow expansion, if needed, when the rink is frozen.
Before flooding in late fall, we place a foam plug in the post sleeves to seal the holes. In the spring, posts and nets are placed as soon as the weather allows. After three winters, we are very pleased with the condition of the equipment and how well it is holding up.
Very popular space
We are also pleased that residents are enjoying the new rink and courts. They have both had very good usage since we installed them.
The hockey rink gets consistent use all winter, and the pickleball has proven to be very popular. It is very common for all four courts to be busy in the mornings and evenings in spring, summer, and fall.